It is always fun to use the flotsam and jetsam on a beach to create a form and send a message. This time it is a long legged duck to welcome in the new year, 2007. (Thanks for your help on this creation, Lin.)

Christmas has come and gone, lovely weather between bookends of more rain. The skies were clear on Christmas Eve, and the stars were glorious with a smile of a moon shining down to earth. I had a couple of good walks with family and friends, even enjoying some eggnog on one of the picnic benches at the campground. Wish you were here!

Earlier in the week, I enjoyed a quick hike over to check out the beaver activity over on the Center Pond trails. I found freshly chewed trees, and lots of work on the dammed area, but the lodge looked unattended to. There were no sticks stuck in the mud near the lodge which usually indicates a beaver is in residence for the winter. You can observe this detail on the lodge over near the Sebasco Post Office. As for the Lily Pond beaver, its lodge is surrounded by shrubbery which is there for the chewing. I've also checked the beaver activity on the Sprague Pond trail. There, the resident rodent keeps the dam well stocked with mud and sticks. There are also freshly cut shrubs and trails leading to and from the pond.

On the Center Pond trail, I ventured off into the woods in search of a new lodge that might be hidden. I didn't find any, but did find a nice patch of one of my favorite orchids that remains evergreen in the woods at this time of year. Sometimes, you have to be lucky to see its patterned leaves since oak leaves may fall on top and hide them. I also noticed the seed stalks, some of which were still standing. One that had become detached was placed near the leaves to show their connection. The flowers are white and bloom in a spike during the summer. The patterned leaves are distinctive. It is called Rattlesnake Plaintain.

There has been no new snow, so my tracking efforts have been confined to sandy beaches. Here are some well defined tracks that crisscrossed a beach, disappearing onto rocks. Again, I think this is a raccoon. The mussel shell is there to give you an idea of the size. If you think these tracks were made by some other animal, let me know your thoughts.

So now we say goodbye to 2006 and welcome in the New Year. May the coming year be full of discoveries in nature and may we all work for a more peaceful world.

12/28/06 New yeared Ronnie.......almost.